OUR VIRTUAL 401 TEAM STORIES

 

Find out form those taking part in our Virtual USA Mission's what it means to them, how being involved has supported them both mentally and physically.


We are sure you will be totally inspired by all our amazing Virtual 401 Team stories.

 

GRAHAM MCKENNA'S STORY

 

"Seeing a community all going towards the same goal and aiming for the same thing is really great to be a part of. I think it’s brilliant to see the map and see the route and how far you are on it."


Graham

Graham McKenna.jpg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

I didn’t even know it was happening, but I follow Ben on Facebook because I did the Portishead challenge last year. I really like Ben and think he’s so inspirational. It’s great to follow him and see him still smiling despite all of the set-backs.

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

Running, indoor and outdoor, but mainly indoors at the moment because of the way the world is. I think it’s brilliant to see the map and see the route and how far you are on it.

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

The community. The facebook community is brilliant. Everyone gets behind you and cheers you on virtually. I don’t know most of them in the group, but they are still there first thing in the morning getting you motivated.

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

The community is doing it for me. I’m doing the miles anyway for a world record attempt later in the year, but seeing a community all going towards the same goal and aiming for the same thing is really great to be a part of.

 

GRAHAM'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Graham's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for him to send someone on the frontline, a treat box to say thank you

"I choose my wife, a radiographer. She’s been diagnosed with Covid and really wants to get back because she misses the staff and the patients. So she’s inspiring me and checks in to see how I’m getting on with the challenge"

 

AMY O'CONNOR'S STORY

 

"This challenge has come at an absolutely fantastic time for keeping people moving and motivated. The fact that you can add your steps as well as running and cycling is fantastic."

Amy

Amy O'Connor.jpeg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

There are so many reasons. Ben is definitely one of them. I followed him pretty much from the first challenge, and I ran my first marathon and half marathon with him. He remembers everyone! 

Listening to his story, I have a slightly similar one. I was bullied in school, hated school with a passion and never ever want anybody to go through that ever. The lack of confidence that I had stopped me from doing things and so seeing that the whole foundation is about trying to stop that from happening is perfect. 

I have two girls and they are both at school. Children need to learn that people should be kind to each other, so the foundation is brilliant. 


The hashtag #FindYourHappy - I’ve decided to live my life by that and turned my life upside down. I’ve decided to become a police officer so that I can do something that I really want to do. 


This challenge has come at an absolutely fantastic time for keeping people moving and keeping them motivated. On saturday I didn’t feel like running, but because I want to get the miles up I went out and did it. Since the 15th of April I’ve hit my steps goal every single day because of the challenge. I find myself marching up and down my flat! 


The fact that you can add your steps as well as running, cycling etc. Being able to track your steps is fantastic. I’ve seen how many miles I’ve got until the next capital, so I’ve set myself a little goal for the end of week.

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

How is the mission helping you to #FindYourHappy?

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

I like the postcard email. I like that idea. I’m going to get a scrapbook to stick them in. 


I also like the streetview because it’s so nice to see where you’re going. The facebook group too is fabulous, I’ve posted a couple of times and already know a few people on there. But I’ve met people through the 401 and they are my best friends in the world now. Seeing as there are no festivals going on this year, we’ve all been in contact through the challenge and it’s lovely. 

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

Having a reason to go out and get the exercise is amazing. I need to go and run to keep me sane. It’s pushing me to go out and do stuff. Before it started I’d not been out for ages, and then the challenge started and I decided that I needed to go out. I love how long it is too, because it inspires you to go so far.

 

AMY'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Amy's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for her to send someone on the frontline a treat box to say thank you

"I choose my sister in law, a nurse. She has to go out to work everyday regardless of whether she wants to or not. I want to be out there doing something but I can't, while she’s out there saving people’s lives and risking her own life. It’s just amazing that there’s all these people out there putting their lives on the line. "

 

ANNETTE RAINBOW'S STORY

 

"I love how inclusive it all is. There’s no shame in any of it, and I love that. Everyone is welcome, and that makes me happy."

Annette

Annette Rainbow.jpg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

Back in 2015 I saw an advert about Ben Smith, I thought yeah I can help that person. I signed up to massage Ben after Marathon 80. I was drawn to how it's not just about Ben, it's about everyone. I love how he includes everyone. Instantly he was so warm and engaging, and he listened to everyone Where they come from and their story is so valuable to him. I think it’s a touching attribute that Ben and the 401 challenge and USA virtual challenge has. 


Because of the 401 and because of Ben. Because of how inclusive it all is and how included everyone is.  When I saw this challenge it was a no brainer. It’s so cheap for what we’re getting out of it! The other thing which is important is the level at which the 401 foundation wants to change things. He engages with youngsters at a level that they can understand, that is where change can happen to make a better future. and I just want to support that as much as I can and anyway that I can.

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

Walking indoors, micro-bouncing, tai chi, standing pilates and walking outdoors. I’m recovering from sepsis so my energy is limited, but I’m doing whatever I can to get involved. I’m engaged on social media as I hope to encourage others to think, ‘If she can do it, then I can too. You don’t have to go out and run, you can do any sort of exercise and still make a difference.’

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

I love looking on the street view! And it's inspiring to see where everyone else is. That visual connection to where all my friends and other participants are on their journey.

I love the idea that the challenge is pitching, that there’s always another way to get the miles in and that we’re always in it together.

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

There’s no shame in any of it, and I love that. Everyone is welcome, and that makes me happy. 

He’s also normalising something that’s normally kept behind closed doors, that people struggle with mental health and he’s showing a way to talk about it and make it ok to talk, so that helps to make me happy.

 

ANNETTE'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Annette's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for her to send someone on the frontline a treat box to say thank you

"I choose Rhiann Gibbon, a midwife, who’s been doing meditation on about 50 surgeons, nurses and midwives to help ease their anxiety and stress during Coronavirus. She works full time and is always helping her colleagues and neighbors in her spare time. She’s always giving and deserves to receive so much more."

 

CLINT WHITFIELD'S STORY

 

"You feel part of a community that is led by people you trust and you feel like you're part of something that’s helping people."

Clint

Clint Whitfield.jpg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

I initially got involved when Ben was doing his 401 challenge. I joined him in Winchester and ran with him for 6 miles which was really inspiring. 


You need something to keep you ticking over. There’s a Paul Simon song called ‘slip sliding away’ and there’s a lyric that says, ‘the nearer you are to your destination the more you slip slide away.’ and that line was ringing true at the end of the last challenge. I was thinking, what am I going to do next? So that encouraged me to try this new challenge out. 


It could be better if you use the previous challenge as a benchmark and your target is staggered.

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

We’ve got a nine year old daughter and she’s loving learning about the state that I’m at any given point, which is nice. Learning the geography of the states using the streetview is brilliant. 


You feel part of a community that is led by people you trust. Ben does it all from the heart, so the collective community spirit is great.

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

I love looking on the street view! And it's inspiring to see where everyone else is. That visual connection to where all my friends and other participants are on their journey.

I love the idea that the challenge is pitching, that there’s always another way to get the miles in and that we’re always in it together.

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

You’re part of something, you’ve got a goal and you’re helping the foundation which is helping others. You feel like you're part of something that’s helping people, and you get the health benefits which is great obviously.

 

CLINT'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Clint's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for him to send someone on the frontline a treat box to say thank you

"I choose Joanna Chapman, a respiratory nurse. She’s right at the coal face at the moment, so the pick me up pack arrived just when she needed it. That’s the way 401 works, it's considerate."

 

JEAN LAZENBY'S STORY

 

"It’s come at a perfect time, because it’s given me a purpose. Being active and having a challenge to do has always made me happy, so the fact that there’s still something to get your teeth into is great. "

Jean

Jean Lazenby.jpeg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

A number of reasons. I’ve done the previous challenge, and really didn’t take it too seriously because I was so busy. I liked the fact though that it made me conscious of how active I was. 

It made me feel different. I’ve always been on the run somewhere or other, and all my life have been active. 


Moving to Portishead, I wanted to be active again, and doing the challenge motivated me and when it finished I was still writing my steps down in my diary.


When this one started, I knew I’d do it, but it’s come at a perfect time, because it’s given me a purpose. I’m doing more walking, doing things we enjoy. It was the right thing to do at the right time. 

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

I can’t run anymore because of operations, walking, gardening and household chores. I’ve had to accept that I can’t run, and it takes me longer than others, but that doesn’t bother me at all.

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

I think it’s the feeling better about yourself, getting out and having a purpose. You feel better for exercise and that’s what the challenge does for me.

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

Being near my family is important to me, and because of that I’ve got involved in this challenge. The family encouragement is wonderful. We’re much, much happier now. 


Being active and having a challenge to do has always made me happy, so the fact that there’s still something to get your teeth into is great. 

 

JEAN'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Jean's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for him to send someone on the frontline a treat box to say thank you

"I choose Chloe Rostron, she works in the Care home system, a very big hearted girl who is working long hours. She’s always been friendly and open and always been cheerful and supportive, she looks after people, working long hours and things and always keeps herself cheerful. When she got the pack, she sent me an email and said, ‘Jean, you’ve made my month.’ She’s come home late at night and found the parcel waiting for her, and she said she was just beside herself. It was a wonderful gesture"

 

HELEN KIRK'S STORY

 

"As soon as I heard about the new USA challenge I instantly signed up. I love the comradery of the Facebook group and the whole family love to see how far I have come with Street View!"

Helen

Helen Kirk.jpg
 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE PART?

I first came across Ben through the Run Mummy Run facebook page where I saw lots of photos of people running with this tall, bearded crazy man! I was instantly inspired and met up with an old school friend to run with him at Clumber Park in Nottingham. That was an amazing day and both my friend and my son ran the furthest they had ever run before. 


Since then I have met Ben on numerous occasions, attending talks and seeing him at the Running Show. I saw his last virtual challenge and decided to sign up, never once thinking I would reach the 1310 miles but willing to give it a go! But I was pleased and proud to have smashed it before the deadline! 


Last year I also took part in the 401 weekend at Nottingham with my family. I absolutely loved the whole weekend and again, it was one of my proudest moments - receiving the 401 cube! 


I'm a primary school teacher and just before lockdown I invited Ben to speak about his journey and inspire our children as they start their journey to mental health and wellbeing. That he definitely did! The children were captivated as were all of the teachers!


As soon as I heard about the new USA challenge I instantly signed up. It has come at the perfect time because parkrun and running club have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, I definitely need something to keep me motivated! I love the commerardary of the Facebook group and the whole family love to see how far I have come with Street View! 


Last weekend I undertook a 2.6 challenge to raise funds for the 401 foundation, running 26.2km and then cycling 26.2miles. I was really pleased to have raised over £600 for the charity!

HOW ARE YOU TAKING PART?

Running and invested in a turbo trainer and sometimes walking too. I’m loving it because without it I wouldn’t have done as much. All the clubs are finished, no park run so it’s inspired me to get out. Otherwise I’d just be sitting on the couch.

WHAT ARE YOU ENJOYING MOST ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?

I love the app and seeing where we are. Actually seeing yourself on the map, and it’s teaching me about America too! I love the streetview aspect of it. 


I love the comradery of the Facebook page. A lot of the people I’ve known virtually, but this one seems a lot more interactive. People are more active because we’ve got the time now, and everyone is happy to chat and encourage each other. 

HOW IS THE MISSION HELPING YOU TO #FINDYOURHAPPY?

It’s giving me a reason to get out the door. Being inside is terrible, but it makes me want to get out and enjoy that fresh air. The route and the challenge means there’s a reason to get out and do it. It gives you the impetus to think ‘why not try a little bit longer today’, which is great.

 

HELEN'S #FRONTLINEHERO

As part of Helen's Virtual USA Mission we offered the chance for him to send someone on the frontline a treat box to say thank you

"I choose One of my colleagues’ sisters. Usually on obs and gynae, but now she’s covering all the different wards and I’ve seen her posts doing this vital job, and because she’s on her own I just felt that she had no one to support her, so this was a way for me to help her out and show my gratitude."

 

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